Tuesday, October 20, 2009

We Interrupt This Broadcast

I know you're here to make fun of newspapers, and I'm a let you finish. But first I gotta tell you we have the worst healthcare system OF ALL TIME.

Today, my wife's employer held a meeting to explain their new health benefits packages. They've got three: a high-deductible plan with an HSA, a "silver" PPO and a "gold" PPO.

We're on the Silver Plan. It's not great, but it does the job. We've got a $1200 family deductible, which we maxed out last year and are on track to do again. Her company chips in about $600 a month towards the "family" premiums, which is a mixed blessing. Since the federal government considers this taxable income (thanks, Defense Of Marriage Act!), she spends about $150 a month more for her premiums than the straight family man in the cubicle across the way. But whatever.

Anyway, they held a meeting today to explain that everything's going to be more expensive. Silver plan's going up by $80 a month. The family deductible is going up $500. Not sure how much the company's contribution to the silver plan is going up, but whatever that is, tack 25% of it on to whatever we pay out of pocket.

Upshot: a $2,000 pay cut for us, dangerously close to 10% of J's take-home pay.

Now, nobody at her job is happy with the new plans. But most people are switching to the HSA plan, if they haven't already, because it's much cheaper. Which, according to J, the company endeavored to explain.

Under DOMA (whee!), J can't legally pay any of my health expenses out of an HSA. Nor can she pay our daughter's, until her legal adoption goes through. (Hopefully soon. We just submitted affidavits to the court. Wheels of justice, etc.)

What does this mean? It means if we switch to the HSA plan, which has a $2300 family deductible, all of my (and my daughters') health expenses have to come 100% out of after-tax money until we max out the deductible. And of course, J will keep paying her premiums, plus an extra 25% of her company's contribution to the "family" plan. And the $60 a month that her employer kicks into the HSA can only legally be spent on J's healthcare, not the sprog's--ironically, since the two adults in the family have basically stopped going to the doctor because it's already too expensive.

As you know, women can't do math. I got through calculus OK, but this shite is hurting my tender women-brains. Anybody who has any opinions on which is the better bum deal for us is welcome to weigh in.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Emily Rooney Could Use Some Anger Management

Here are some things that women, despite their general reputation for meekness and milksoposity, occasionally do:

"...have violent revenge fantasies
...make disparaging comments about immigrants
...make cranky-old-guy comments about new things
...make sweeping generalizations about gender"

That's from a sharp-eyed reader commenting on Emily Rooney's strange, apoplectic rant about Balloon Boy on the WGBH website. For a Real Live News Reporter, she sounds kinda like one of those pajama-clad Internet crackpots we've been hearing about lately.

And there's this:

I actually have a fantasy that I'd like to make chicklets of Mayumi Heene's smile.


Hat tip to Universal Hub.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Useless Reveal: Now With 50% More Gay

Remember the Useless Reveal? It's in the pages of this week's Phoenix. And it's wicked gay.

It’s just another Thursday night in South Boston.

Be calm, Reader, all is well. Or is it?

Local bars like the Boston Beer Garden and the Playwright are overstuffed with hard-drinking twenty- and thirtysomethings, mostly locals and the new crop of Southie transplants looking for a hookup.
In case you forgot what an ALTERNATIVE weekly we are, we threw some sex in.

The men are knuckling up to the bar, eyeing deals on pitchers of Miller Lite or Budweiser, scoping out prime real estate in front of a flat-screen TV to watch their favorite Boston sports team, and maybe even getting some love from one of the female hotties prancing around in skin-tight denim and low-cut halter tops.

More sex. More aimless verbiage. This is beginning to feel ominous.

The scene is similar at the Junction, another popular local watering hole. There’s a stench of beer and cologne in the air, pint glasses are being filled by the dozen, and the athletic attire that is the unofficial after-work uniform of the Southie male is everywhere in sight. But something seems off in this prototypical pub in the heart of historically xenophobic South Boston.


Maybe it’s this: almost every guy in the Junction tonight is gay.


My Southie bawnanraised ex-girlfriend is going to have a goddamn field day with this.

Thanks to expert spotters Adam and Julia for finding this splendid specimen.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Following Things Are For Men

Science fiction, engineering, know-how, design, coolness, lightning, thunder, beer, GM, America.

Whereas, in contrast, these things are for women:

Environmentalism, organics, food co-ops, that which is emo, Europe.

Thanks for clarifying that for us, Slate.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Ardipithecus Chronicles: Special Women Edition

The NYT had a nice package this weekend on Ardipithecus ramidus, an astounding new Ethiopian hominid discovery. (Ardipithewhatzis? If this is news to you, you live under a rock and should get out more.)

Like the last big human-ancestor fossil find, Lucy, Ardi is a woman sort of hominid. (A womanid?) And you just don't get to be a big deal newspaper editor person without acquiring a deep, deep need to sling gratuitous puns, wisecracks and perky asides at every single female-type thing that passes within reach of your grasping inky paws. They had to go there.

Forget the high heels; her feet had no arches (Lucy’s did).

Was that really necessary?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Distaff Gator Slayers!

For real.

Gators, beware: There are predators stalking the swampland of the South, capable of bringing down creatures up to four times their weight. These menacing forces have bows in their hands. And occasionally in their hair.

Today's shot of breathless incredulity with an "OMG, girlz" chaser courtesy of Sports Illustrated.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Welcome To The Borg, Martha Coakley

When Globe reporter Matt Viser came a-calling on our esteemed A.G. the other day for a story about her U.S. Senate candidacy, she apparently told him to take a hike.

Coakley, the first woman to serve as Massachusetts attorney general, declined requests for an interview yesterday.

Well, if she thought that would stop Viser from writing a great fat Women Do story about her, she was sorely mistaken. "Powerful Women Line Up For Coakley," the article promises, and gets off to a rousing start with a quote from state Senate president Therese Murray:

“There’s just a real sense of excitement that she’s qualified and she’s got the whole package,’’ said Senate President Therese Murray. “Women have never been at this point in Massachusetts before for this office.’’

How true that is, President Murray. As a woman, I feel I am at a whole different point in Massachusetts today, thanks to Martha Coakley and her exciting package, for whom I have reserved the right not to vote, on account of I feel I need a little more information on the topic than the (admittedly well-sourced) rumor that she possesses certain ladybits.

As the story continues, it quickly rambles off into the meta-weeds with a lot of Globe-style handwringing from various commenters about whether or not it is proper for a woman, as a woman, to be campaigning for another woman qua woman and not qua office-seeker, despite or perhaps because of anyone's possession of ladybits, all the while firmly maintaining one's conviction that indeed Ms. Coakley is the best pol of any sex for the job, but unfortunately one's fellow voting-women are so dumb they have to be beat over the head with a giant vagina every November. Capiche?

Viser explains with less verbiage:

But much as Clinton did, Coakley faces a complex calculus. Her supporters and campaign aides want women voters, but they don’t want to be seen as courting them on gender alone.

Well, too bad, ladies of the Borg. Thanks to the Globe, now we all know you just want to get in our pants. Our hot, voting lady pants.

In other Women Borg news, Jezebel has a zippy little tirade today about media accounts of mean girls on both sides of the pond. A sample:

Anyway, according to these articles, women have some special bond through our giant shared vagina which means everything is automatically peaches and cream between all of us, and if someone is ever mean or nasty, this is to be ascribed to the entire gender.

I am not entirely sure I approve of the mixed metaphor, though there is a certain juicy felicitousness about it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Patience Is A Virtue For Shooting Things Dead

Women: They're better at killing stuff in the woods. Increasingly. Exponentially, even. It must be because of their wise, gentle, patient, practical, all-knowing, compassionate, humble, superior Goddess-nature.

Jeanine Elias says women make good hunters because she believes they're more patient than men, and their expectations are lower.

"They don't have this idea of, 'I got to have this perfect rack on my wall,' " Elias said. "When I go hunting, I'm not looking for the perfect rack on a deer. I'm looking for meat."

Oh, the soft bigotry of lowered expectations. (I'm not sure that's relevant here. I just like saying it. It's the best thing that ever came out of Dubya's mouth by a long shot.)

How's this for a trend: Increasingly, I'm getting really bloody tired of all these backhanded compliments, all this noble-savage talk about women being superior at basically everything because of some trumped-up essential quality we are universally presumed to possess. And the sloppy use of the word "exponentially" in news reports. I'm getting tired of that, too.

Depart from us, NPR, we never knew ye.

Women Exacerbate Dairy Crisis

As you all know, unless you have been living under the proverbial rock these last twelve months, we are in the End Times--or, if not the End Times, perhaps their darling Victorian antechamber, where we will have a glass of sherry and have a look at some etchings before the butler arrives to usher us into the Apocalypse Proper. Odds are you've got it pretty bad. But unless you're a dairy farmer, it could be worse.

(I'm guessing you're not a dairy farmer, because if you are, you're probably not reading blogs about newspapers writing about women doing things. You're probably at your bank begging for a loan so you can buy hay to feed your cows so they'll make milk which you can sell to a giant monopoly that is currently under investigation by the Justice Department so you can maybe make back half of the money you spent on hay. Or you're at your 40-hour-a-week day job that you have so you can get health insurance, popping Ritalin so you can make it through the day and still get up at 4am to milk 100 goddamn cows. Or maybe you're out shooting your cows in the head.)

Being a dairy farmer? Not so hot right now. And it's about to get a lot worse, thanks to women. Women cows, that is.

The New York Times tells the tale for us citified types that haven't heard it yet. Since approximately the dawn of time, cows, like most animals, have been giving birth to male and female calves in roughly equal numbers. But a male calf on a dairy farm is, as Rip Torn might say, about as useful as a poopy-flavored lollipop. So a few years ago, Science gave the beleaguered dairy farmer marvelous new sperm sorting technology, ensuring that most calves born would be female.

Now farmers have a different problem: too much milk. And the first generation of bionic bovine fembots are about to hit the milk parlor, with a vengeance.

“Just as the industry starts to recover from these difficult times, we’re going to see these heifers enter the marketplace,” said Ray Souza, president of Western United Dairymen, which represents farmers who produce about 60 percent of the milk in California. “At the very worst it could certainly stop the recovery altogether and send us into another price recession.”

It's like the Chinese one-child policy, only with cows. Thanks a lot, Science.

Monday, September 21, 2009

for weak women.

who knew we've been sick all along? quelle horreur!

a brilliant find to kick off a female-forward week.

purchase print of original collage for $24 at the paper apartment (because women do become artists in allston)

Saturday, September 19, 2009


In honor of Talk Like A Pirate Day, please enjoy this Women Do Stuff At Sea story from the AP. It's pretty well-done--no grossly fruity verbiage or cutesiness, just the facts, ma'am. Its hero is Aysun Akbay, a 24-year-old Turkish third officer aboard the MV-Horizon 1, which has been hijacked by Somali pirates.

The pirates told Aysun that she could call her family when she wants because she is a woman, but Aysun calls us only when others get the chance to call their families too. She tells us not to worry," said her sister, Aysen.

A little old-fashioned, these pirates.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Useless Reveal On Steroids

You folks are familiar with the Useless Reveal, right? We've discussed this before. It's a kind of lede common in women-journalism. Sometimes invisible to the untrained eye, but rather like Euphorbia prostrata, the Prostrate Spurge, once you know what you're looking for, you'll see it everywhere. Here are its markings:

1. A headline and/or large photo that screams "THIS STORY IS ABOUT A WOMAN TYPE OF PERSON,"

2. A gormless presumption on the part of the reporter that the reader does not know this,

and 3. Faux shock and awe when some kind of wardrobe malfunction, usually involving a blond ponytail tumbling out of a helmet of some sort, betrays the subject's basic feminitude.

Today's NYT has a three-paragraph Useless Reveal. Three paragraphs. Wow. I think I need a new pair of disbelief-suspension cables.

NEW ORLEANS — Mike Henry could not get comfortable in his stance. He knew the line judge was watching him. This was only a scrimmage, but Henry, a 6-foot-5, 289-pound freshman lineman, was trying to move up thedepth chart for the Tulane Green Wave. The whistle blew and a blur of black and white stripes came running his way.

“You need to get down, and stay down,” the official said in a voice that swiveled Henry’s head and widened his eyes. It was not the tone but the timbre of Sarah Thomas’s voice.

It was soft and lilting and grounded in the rhythms of her native Mississippi. Because Thomas’s long blond hair was tucked beneath a black hat swirled in stripes, Henry had had no idea the official was a woman.

Kudos to reporter Joe Drape for informing us that women are native to Mississippi. I did not know that.

I hesitate to offend the delicate sensibilities of our readers, but you should know that subject Sarah Thomas--who, you may have deduced, is a football referee--is occasionally subject to uncouth verbiage.

She understands intensity can give way to some salty language.

Shocking. I hope the NAIA covers the cost of the lead ovary-shields she obviously needs to perform her job safely.

News Flash: Effective Women More Effective Than General Population

A recent study by Stanford and the U. of Chicago found that women lawmakers, on average, introduced more bills, attracted more cosponsors, and brought home 9% more bacon for their districts than their male counterparts.

Politico asks the obvious, though somewhat misleading, question

Are women more effective lawmakers than men?

Er, yes. No. Sort of.

Set aside the issue of whether more pork = better lawmaking. Cheers to Politico for getting around to the real lesson, though it could have come a little higher in the story:

Researchers say the small number of female members may have something to do with their effectiveness. Women who run and win are likely the most politically ambitious and talented of their pool, having potentially overcome hurdles including voter bias and self-doubt about their ability to win. Female candidates also tend to attract more challengers.
You don't have to go all Carol Gilligan on the data to explain it. This study doesn't really say anything about women being innately better or more cooperative or what have you. It's a selection effect: only the most extraordinarily competent women can survive the election process. If my lawnmower cuts down all the dandelions over four inches tall, it stands to reason the ones left will all be short.

Good News!

Greetings, fair Readers--

In the (unlikely) event that you spend your days worrying about Women Blogging About Newspapers Writing About Women Doing Stuff, you may have noticed a distressing scarcity of content in this cantankerous corner of the Interwebs of late.

Well, I'm sorry about that. I've been busy with many projects. Some of them involve journalism, and will be expounded upon in future. Others involve poop. Never mind that! I have great news for you all.

I've invited a few steadfast Women Do-ers to contribute to our little endeavor. Namely:

Christine Liu, cultural curator. One of the few people I know who can write about fashion and design without sounding like Beth Teitell with a mouth full of bubblegum. You should let her choose your shoes.

Ryan Rose Weaver, writer, editor and foodie. In a churning sea of new media that has sunk so many boats, Weaver is a stone deftly skipping across the waters.

Jenna Scherer, critic of, among other things, theater. The most acidulous pen in Boston, and perhaps the Eastern seaboard. If we are lucky, she will use it for good and not evil.

I am honored to have these ladies aboard. Together We Can.

Lest you fear we are turning into a gynocracy up in here, I would like to publicly extend invitations also to Messrs. Keohane, Kilburn, McMorrow and Moseman, all of whom have been avid noticers of Women Doing Stuff, and who are all well able to reason their way out of a wet paper bag. Gentlemen?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Not That Word Again

Can somebody please read today's Globe's Women Do Stuff story for me? Looks like it's about women rocking out at the Bank of America pavilion. I can't get past the title without urping.

"Kickin' Sass."

Oh yes. They did.


Okay, fine, I read it. Here's my favorite part:

Q. I know you don’t think of rock in terms of gender, but are you finding other people are framing this as a female rock tour?

A. No, no one has said that to me.

Q. Good. Maybe we’ve moved beyond thinking in those terms.

Hi, this is the Globe! OK if we ask you a few questions? So how long have you been beating your wife? Oh, you haven't? Of course you haven't! That's ridiculous! Can you believe anybody would print that in the newspaper? Jeez, some people.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Men Increasingly Defying Nonexistent Stereotypes

For too long, men have been denied a seat at the table at which serious questions of philosophy, morality, theology and wise government are discussed. It's high time they emerged from their man-caves and began engaging with the world of ideas.

Recently, we heard from Don Aucoin of the Boston Globe that area men are forming book clubs. They don't actually read any books, as this would take precious time away from traditional male pursuits such as drinking, gossiping and making simian noises about NASCAR. However, this is a great start. If the men keep their minds sharp with these little sallies into intellectualism, why, in a few hundred years they might even hold most of the positions of power in American society.

"Traditionally, it's difficult to get men together unless it has something to do with poker or NASCAR or Hooters clubs," says Douglas Lord, who writes the "Books for Dudes" column for a newsletter published by the Library Journal.

How true that is, Douglas Lord. Where in America do you see a bunch of men getting together to tackle the important issues of society? What we really need is more male safe space, so men can feel comfortable talking about big ideas without their wives and mothers and sisters there to tell them how to think. Men are natural networkers, and when you get them together, exciting things happen.
"We used to just sit around and drink beer and read Charles Bukowski, nothing great," says Pride, 51, of Quincy. "But the other night we were talking about evil. Drinking our red wine and talking about evil. We're moving into a deeper dimension. We don't want to read junk."

See? Brotherhood is powerful!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ethical Dilemma: Solved

New York Times columnist Randy Cohen, also known as The Ethicist, has produced some whoppers in his day. But this is the living end. I'm sure his proposal--to require all women to carry unconcealed weapons--is satirizing something. I'm just not sure what. Sexism? The ridiculousness of the pro-gun lobby? The ridiculousness of the anti-gun lobby? Hisself?

The best part is the little Gedankenexperiment where he imagines himself on the subway surrounded by Glock-toting females, and feels a snug, comforting sensation. (Clearly the subway around Lincoln Center does not have much in common with the Red Line.)

And then there's this:

Given women’s splendid record of seldom shooting at, for example, me, they’ve earned a provisional chance to serve the public good in this way. Even if some women prove imprudent with firearms — that is, act like men — feminizing gun ownership could ultimately reduce its appeal to men, making gun-toting as unmasculine as carrying a purse. There are occupations whose status (and pay) declined once they were taken up by women: secretaries, telephone operators, teachers. We already endure the mischief of such sexism; why not harness it for good?

Jonathan Swift you are not, sir.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sarah Kershaw: Manning the It's-Not-1954-Anymore Beat

Intrigued by Sarah Kershaw's "idiot-ass stupid-dumbfuck-balls article" about teen hugging (which we featured earlier today), Women Do! reader Jenna Scherer hit the NYT vault to see what else Kershaw had perpetrated lately. Looks like she's an expert in the field of People Defying Garbage Gender Stereotypes In Irritating Ways.

Somehow I missed her April 23 feature, "Mr. Moms (by Way of Fortune 500)." Is it as bad as I think it is, you ask? No! It's worse!

Even for the Times, this is pretty rich stuff. Dads who used to make more money than you now have to go to PTA meetings! Where they are hailed as saviors, apparently. Because everybody knows women can't do math. And who do you turn to when you can't do math? The guys who just got laid off from their fantastically highly-paid Wall Street finance jobs for DESTROYING THE KNOWN UNIVERSE.

The new prevalence of fathers around town is bittersweet for mothers, teachers and others. On the one hand, the PTA can use all the help it can get from men with financial expertise at a time when the proposed school budget is under enormous pressure. And women are happy to see stay-at-home husbands building closer relationships with their children. But one little-spoken effect is an uneasy feeling that these highly successful men are facing the pain and potential shame of being out of work.

Oh, the shaaaaaaaaaaame! Who knew being a regular person was so dirty?

Sarah Kershaw, we're onto you.

Deviled Egg-Off!

A few months ago, you may recall, we got our knickers in a twist over a really thickheaded Globe story claiming that women do not eat deviled eggs. "How could they?" we quoth. We swore. We shook our fists at the sky. And we vowed to have a party. A great big egg party.

Well, grab your paprika bottle and shake it like a Polaroid picture, because it's time for the Inaugural Deviled Egg-Off. In the spirit of women and men doing things, both kinds of people, in addition to everybody else, are hereby invited to whip up your deviledest eggs and bring them to PA's Lounge on Monday for an epic showdown of eggy goodness.

Where: P.A.'s Lounge, 345 Somerville Ave., Somerville.
When: Monday, June 1, 7:30pm
What: Deviled eggs! Chicken celebrities! Foodie judges! Mayhem! Free admission!
Why: To show that there Globe what for, but mostly to have a good time and eat a lot of deviled eggs.
How: As zestily as possible.

Here is our Facebook invitation! By all means invite your friends.

Also, no one can eat fifty eggs, except Paul Newman. (Hot!) But we will try.

The Youth Of Today: They Hug One Another With Abandon

Hot off the presses of our nation's paper of record: teenagers hug each other. Even the boy kind! No! It cannot beeeeeeeeee!

Our intrepid reporter Sarah Kershaw ventures boldly into the halls of Pascack Hills High in Montvale, New Jersey, where she is informed by junior Danny Schneider that gender as we know it has ceased to exist.

“We’re not afraid, we just get in and hug,” said Danny Schneider, a junior at the school, where hallway hugging began shortly after 7 a.m. on a recent morning as students arrived. “The guy friends, we don’t care. You just get right in there and jump in.”

And it's not just in New Jersey. All across the nation, the flower of manhood are bravely flinging their arms around one another, risking the ire of school administrators.

[S]chools from Hillsdale, N.J., to Bend, Ore., wary in a litigious era about sexual harassment or improper touching — or citing hallway clogging and late arrivals to class — have banned hugging or imposed a three-second rule.

Youth vs. authority! Shifting social norms! My God, it's a trend! We have here the elements of a newspaper story. But it's not really meaty enough for the New York Times. To make it worthy of the Grey Lady, we have to know: Will somebody make some sciencey noises for us? Is there a pop-culture buzzword? Can we make an incredibly awkward reference to hip-hop culture? And can we blame it on the Facebook?

But Amy L. Best, a sociologist at George Mason University, said


The prevalence of boys’ nonromantic hugging (especially of other boys) is most striking to adults. Experts say that over the last generation, boys have become more comfortable expressing emotion, as embodied by the MTV show “Bromance,” which is now a widely used term for affection between straight male friends.


But some sociologists pointed out that African-American boys and men have been hugging as part of their greeting for decades, using the word “dap” to describe a ritual involving handshakes, slaps on the shoulders and, more recently, a hug, also sometimes called the gangsta hug among urban youth.

Er, check.

“Maybe it’s because all these kids do is text and go on Facebook so they don’t even have human contact anymore,” said Dona Eichner, the mother of freshman and junior girls at the high school in Montvale.

Okay, we're done here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Words Of Wisdom

Here's a riddle for you: What is strong enough to ruin an entire generation of American men, yet so weak that I could cripple it simply by choosing to wear the wrong sort of shoes? The answer, of course, is feminism. If you believe what you read in the papers, that is.

This post, a savage takedown of Ad Age/Details writer Simon Dumenco's irritating how-can-I-be-a-man-when-you-keep-making-me-empty-the-diaper-pail schtick, is six months old (quelle horreur!), but the sagacity therein is as fresh as a pail of new milk. My favorite bit:

Here's the deal: men and women are dicks, men and women cheat and otherwise do the wrong thing, men and women succumb to everyday selfishness and resentment and feminism doesn't have a good goddamn to do with it.

What she said.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Traffic Jam On Madison Avenue

Seventy years ago, marketers hit upon the novel idea that men should eat soup.

Fast-forward to 2009. Things are so different now! It's pretty radical, but get this: women use computers. Not only that, but men drink soda.

What is this, Tehran?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Women Occasionally Mean, Unsupportive Of One Another

Breaking news: Women in the workforce, despite being generally regarded as frail and timid, are in fact too aggressive. Especially to other women. Sometimes.

Just the mention of women treating other women badly on the job seemingly shakes the women’s movement to its core.

Oh, feminism, how frail thou (seemingly) art. A gentle spring breeze might blow you away. Only last week, I failed to give a pregnant lady my seat on the T, and God killed a radical lesbian-separatist kitten. So much for sisterhood being powerful.

According to a story in yesterday's New York Times, women are not as prone to bullying their subordinates as men, which fits nicely with received notions of women being altruistic. But when they do go rogue, they pick on other women, which is nasty, and hurts feminism. Also, they are stone cold bitches. (And here we thought putting women in charge was going to magically reform our corporate culture and fix the recession and stuff.)

It’s probably no surprise that most of these bullies are men, as a survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute, an advocacy group, makes clear. But a good 40 percent of bullies are women. And at least the male bullies take an egalitarian approach, mowing down men and women pretty much in equal measure. The women appear to prefer their own kind, choosing other women as targets more than 70 percent of the time.

What is this "nationally representative" study, you may well ask? Was it peer-reviewed? Did it appear in some fancy science journal thing? And where on earth did they get those lovely round numbers?

Actually, it's by a bunch of seminar-peddling consultants, who can be found here, here and here. Or if you like, you can help them make the world a nicer place by getting lawyers involved. And if you're really into this anti-bullying stuff, this June, you can spend three days with them in the glorious environs of Bellingham, Washington, learning to be an anti-bullying lobbyist just like Doctors Gary and Ruth Namie of the Workplace Bullying Institute. Only not as good.

No one else in North America can train you on this topic like Gary and Ruth Namie can! You will learn to customize the components for your personal needs and upon completion of this course you will be certified to deliver a presentation introducing Workplace Bullying to a variety of audiences — public or business groups.

See? You, too can be certified to give other people a PowerPoint presentation on Workplace Bullying! And, since the Workplace Bullying Institute is a nonprofit, Gary and Ruth Namie are doing this for the poor downtrodden American worker. Out of the goodness of their hearts.

Fee: $3,600 (USD) per person

Oh. Right then.

Friday, May 8, 2009

When Life Gives You Lemons, Enjoy Your Banker PMS

There are a lot of things to love about being in the middle of a ruinous economic meltdown. Hobo chic, which is hilarious. Backwoods Home magazine getting fatter and fatter. Laughing at soulless twits who bought condos at the Natick Collection. And my favorite: the Banker PMS Story.

It used to be that 99%* of stories about people rendered insane by the cocktail of hormones coursing through their veins were about women. No more. Now, when you crack your morning paper and read about somebody losing their God-given marbles to an endocrine secretion, it's just as likely to be a banker-man.

It's a little bit of schadenfreude, to be sure. But having long been vexed by newspapers yammering about how irrational we women are when on the rag/pre-rag/pregnant/postpartum/lactating/adolescent/menopausal/postmenopausal/etc., I am enjoying watching the deposed Masters of the Universe marinate in their own humiliating stew of pop evolutionary theory and specious psychobabble.

*Not a number validated by any kind of science whatsoever.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Women Are So Much Better Than Everybody Else And Should Be In Charge Of Stuff

Is it possible that the last op-ed ever to appear in the Boston Globe could be a golden paean to the loving maternal arms of the Nanny State?

Apparently without a shred of irony, editorial-page editor Renee Loth has taken up her silvered quill and penned a rather quaint Victorian essay on the Virtues of Womankind. Specifically, the women of New Hampshire. It seems that in New Hampshire, serving on the state legislature has become one of those tainted women-jobs, like cleaning toilets and fixing hair. The result? Gas tax! Gay marriage! Liberals! Hooray!

Loth attributes a recent leftward shift in New Hampshire politics to the superior ethical powers of women, who are increasingly taking up the mantle of public service out of their vast selflessness, and deciding what's best for everybody else. I wish I were making this up.

This is the more interesting question about women in power. Sure, women should be heard more in government - and the law, and science, and journalism - as a matter of sheer equity. But it's not the quantity of women so much as the different quality that can bring real change.

That last sentence. It appears to mean something. But what? What?

Women see the world as a web of relationships. They are more communitarian and less individualistic. They are less ideological and more practical. It's hard to imagine a better set of qualities for solving the intricate problems that face our world.

Naturally, all this female-superiority talk is playing straight into the grubby hands of the live-free-or-die-ers. The commenters on the Globe board, most of whom appear to be a bunch of third-generation Xerox copies of Howie Carr's mugshot come magically to life, are loving the hell out of it. A sample:

Let me summarize the article: Men are stupid, Women are reshaping NH (and the world) for the better.

Reverse all of the subtle and no so subtle points in the article and you have outrage from the liberal media and feminazis. Bashing men is so 21st century!

Well, Renee Loth, if you set out to prove nutjob libertarian gazillionaire Peter Thiel right, you're doing a hell of a job. Clearly letting those women-people vote is the first step down a nasty slippery slope of some sort.

But don't worry. Mommy is waiting at the bottom to catch all her wayward children, and gather them up into a bright and glorious future.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Don't Be Talkin' Down To Me, Math Lady

I cannot really argue with the benevolence of a nonprofit that helps math-challenged po' women learn to add. Math-dumbness is rampant (especially among journalists!), and any effort to raise the basic numeracy of the American people is good by me. Still, there's a stench of condescension about the whole thing.

What often holds girls back is self-confidence; it drops sharply in middle school and is considered a reason that so many women don’t choose math-related fields, she said. But “many girls and women have the potential to improve their spatial skills to the point of being very successful" in fields that require those abilities, she said.

Buh. Call me when somebody founds a really sappy institute for reaching out to engineer dudes who break out in a cold sweat when forced to compose a few sentences in basic English.

We Shall Overcome (Our Pants)

Women in law enforcement have long been held back by antiquated attitudes about female perp-busting prowess. And pants. Pants, once hailed as the harbingers of a new era of female empoweringfullnessment, are actually holding lots of women back. Literally.

Well, Female Law Enforcement Professional, no more shall you be detained by the cruel shackles of your own pants. I give you QuickPants.

“QuickPants are for those of us so tired of shucking off all our duty belt gear just to go to the restroom,” says Officer Becky MacLean of New Hope, Ala.

“No more having to take off the heavy gun belts and then figuring out what the heck you’re going to do with the darn thing. You don’t want to put it on the floor (of the restroom) do you?"

Also useful for sea captains and mountain lion hunters, the article notes.

Women: They Are So Very Compassionate

Psychology professionals agree: Women are too compassionate for their own good. That's because they're "biologically programmed to be caretakers." It's a fact: Women have tiny little mind-control mechanisms embedded deep inside their brains that force them to care hard at all times.

Which explains today's Condi Rice news.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The P-Word

To be added to the list of banned words: "plucky." How much of Mesopotamia do you have to reign over before they quit calling you that?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Women Do! Hero of the Month: Deb Harkness

Kudos to Serious Eats for running this very Women Do-esque riposte to a recent marketing study on women and wine. It seems that in Obvious Town, women sometimes drink wine, kind of like men do.

What's the wine industry to do, now that they know that women aren't a specialized market?

Well, I'm hoping the study's findings makes executives think twice before they pay for an insulting advertising campaign directed at women that makes us out to be clueless, waistline-obsessed wine-swilling divas. I hope we see less cutesy wine labels with cuddly animals. And I fervently pray that the next time I order the wine in a restaurant, I'm the one offered a taste of it, instead of the waiter pouring it into the glass belonging to the man at the table. And I really hope this is the last study of this kind I see.

Bravo. My only quibble: I wish Harkness had linked to the study.

Women Destroy The Environment

Dear URI undergraduates: Please stop destroying everything we hold dear with your constant showering. As a source of potent greenhouse gases, hot showers are up there, er, somewhere behind manufacturing, agriculture, poorly insulated buildings and the driving of big smokin' American cars. So cut it out. Especially you women. You soapy, soapy women.

"Shower length is the most difficult behavior to change; it seems to be ingrained in people as a right," said Scott Finlinson, coordinator of the project for NORESCO, the energy services company hired by the University.

"While men tend to be willing to reduce the length of their showers, women say that they have too much to do in the shower to cut back on the time spent there."

Also. Undergrads shower eight times a week? Not in my day, bub.

Whores In The Newspaper

Recently, Universal Hub--where they care as hard about newspapers and their verbiage as we Women Do-ers do--got its knickers all in a twist over whether a Proper Newspaper would use the word "whore" in print. I am pleased to report that the answer is Yes. And in the New York Times, no less.

Quote of the year:

"“If I had my way, I’d destroy all the mosques and spread the whores around a little more,” the detective said. “At least they’re not sectarian.”

Thanks to Joe for passing that on, in the hopes that it would galvanize me into blogging afresh. It did! And thanks to everybody else who sent me a virtual kick in the pants over the last couple of weeks. I am sorry I did not get around to that Metro story, in which it was revealed that, gasp, women are also affected by the economic recession. I regret not doing a full autopsy on the Biker Babes of Bellingham. I am kicking myself for passing up the opportunity to slice up Newsweek's take on Understanding Male Post-Partum Depression.

I hope you will forgive me. April is indeed the cruelest month. There were taxes. There were family medical emergencies. There were exploding water heaters in the basement. Oh, and I got engaged. Which you would already know, if you were a regular watcher of Jim Braude's news quiz show on NECN. Check it out and see if you can guess which of these three fine Stooges I'm going to marry this summer. (Hint: Not Jim Braude.)

Friday, April 3, 2009

In Which A Rumor Is Dispelled

I am not Fake Marty Baron.

Piling On

It's a painful exercise, making fun of the Globe in its hour of doom. Some days, I wonder if there is any point in doing so. For the record, in case anybody is confused: I'd like the paper to live, breathe, thrive, kick ass and take names all over Boston.

But they're not helping themselves with running stuff like "Where the boys (over 35) are."

Trees died to bring you this vital news. Pulitzer-finalist photographers were laid off so it could continue to run. City Weekly was killed so that...I'll stop now, I can feel the earnestness coming on. Nobody wants to see that.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Further Notes On WAM!

Well, the WAM! conference is all wrapped up, and everybody has headed back to their jobs/schools/anarchofeminist knitting circles for another year. Hope all you ladies had fun! And for everybody who, like me, didn't go, I have only a tiny nugget of stale, secondhand WAM! news to deliver.

Apparently last year, the conference erupted in ex post facto drama over some inconveniences experienced by various attendees, and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth over whether or not these had been caused by racism. Some of said drama involved the WAM! party, which coincided rather unfortunately with another event in town hosted by queer women of color. Hearts were broken; sisterhood was disempowered; the dominant plutocratic hegemony of white androcapitalism continued its relentless marginalization of wimmin's voices/spaces. This year, WAM! organizers reportedly took the lesson to heart, and solved everything by holding their party at a Eurotrash craptini bar in the Theater District.

I am perhaps enjoying ragging on WAM! a little too much. The speaker lineup did look rather spiffy. I am especially sorry to have missed the war correspondents.

While we're on the topic of women, action and the media, I'd like to alert you all to this grant opportunity from the McCormick Foundation. You have until midnight to apply for $10,000, to be used for the purpose of saving journalism. But only if you have a vagina. The reasoning:

Connection. Women are natural networkers. They know how to initiate and maintain relationships. This is the essence of the digital world.

Conversation. Women are listeners. And talkers. They ask the tough questions. This is the starting point for good journalism.

Creativity. Women give birth to new people and new ideas. They are resourceful and make things happen.

Change. Women are on the move. They adapt to new realities, seize opportunities and take risks to improve themselves and society.

I especially like #3. I think I am going to tell the editor at my next job interview that, having given birth to a person, I am naturally full of ideas. If there are any media outlets left by the time I am back on the job market.

It helps that on the website for the New Media Women Entrepreneurs program, these talking points are in hot pink. Also, their logo appears to be made of dismembered fingernails.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Women! Action! Media!

Spring is sprung. The grass is riz. Do you wonder where the media-savvy feminists is?

Wonder no more--they're descending on MIT's Stata Center today, for the Center for New Words' annual Women, Action and the Media conference, otherwise known as WAM! (Exclamation point included.) Women are pouring into Cambridge in droves even as I type. With the keynote address just a few hours away, they're Twittering up a storm, and you can follow them here.

I have had mixed feelings about WAM! since I arrived in Boston a number of years ago, a very green freelance writer, and spent an afternoon volunteering there in between exhausting catering shifts, in the hope that I might get a chance to do some good-old-girls networking. My job was passing out name tags to attending journos. I was desperate to get some non-food-service-related work and trying not to let it show, so of course it was humiliating, as was pretty much every interaction I had with professional writers at the time. (I remember a particularly galling MediaBistro event in which somebody asked me why the hell I didn't just move to some shitty town in Texas if I wanted to be a reporter. I think I had Crisco on my sleeve from making whoopie pies all afternoon.)

Naturally, none of this was WAM!'s fault. But I must say, it didn't strike me as being all that useful to a woman on fire to get some hot media action. In fact, from my outsider's seat by the check-in table, it struck me as having rather a high wankery-to-usefulness ratio. I haven't been back.

Incidentally, the theme of WAM! this year is Inside/Outside. I remain conflicted as to whether WAM! is friend or foe to the likes of me--a woman, mirable dictu, in the media, generally perplexed and disgusted with the way news outlets are always brimming with amazement that women are considered people, but with little interest in joining feminist-theory circle-jerks. (Full disclosure: I went to Smith College, where even the campus squirrels have feminist-theory circle-jerks. The allure of that kind of thing wore off after a year or two.)

Recently, Women Do reader Jezzica threw down a gauntlet. Was I going to WAM!, she wanted to know. And if not, why not?

Alas, I am not. I shudder to give you my excuses. They are stereotypically female in the extreme. But I told Jezzica I would, and so I must.

1. Women Are At Economic Risk. The conference costs almost $200. I am embarrassed to say how much of my average monthly take-home pay that is. I thought of putting up a PayPal link, a la Ana Marie Cox, but I am betting that me liveblogging WAM! is a matter of far less interest to the general populace than getting Wonkette onto the McCain campaign plane.

2. Women Spend An Inordinate Amount Of Time Sewing and Cooking and Washing Things. I signed up months ago for a sewing class that meets tomorrow. I am making a dress for the baby. Even thus do women take the fetters that hold them fast and bind them upon the tender limbs of their daughters.

3. Women Are Altruistic. On Sunday, I am going to Canton to get volunteer training from the Neponset Watershed Association in how to raise purple-loosestrife-eating beetles in my backyard. For the good of all.

4. Women Sacrifice Their Careers For Their Children. There is the matter of my full-time job, which mostly consists of shoveling various substances into and out of a small helpless person. It's not gonna do itself.

So sorry to disappoint, Jezzica. But we are hosting a WAM!-er over the weekend, a friend of my S.O.'s from out of town. I promise to pick her brains and report back.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wellesley's New Firefighter Deemed Adequate

Wellesley resident Joan Cullinan joined the town's fire department this week, becoming only the second woman in the town's history to do so. Fortunately for Cullinan, her sole female predecessor--whose name seems to have long ago faded into the mists of time--did not embarrass herself in any way.

“The first was 20-some years ago,” says DeLorie. He wasn’t on the squad at the time but has heard her reputation was “first-rate.”

“She did everything everyone else did and was well accepted.”

Cullinan's duties henceforth will consist mainly of putting out fires, rescuing people, and striving never to do anything that might sully the reputations of the rest of the roughly 3 billion women on planet Earth. In addition, she will be personally bringing the overall comfortableness of the W.F.D. to a new level.

What clearly pleases DeLorie about the appointment of Cullinan to the force is that the department will be able to provide residents with an additonal comfort level.

“Some patients just personally feel more comfortable dealing with a woman,” says DeLorie, “and Wellesley is long overdue in providing that.”

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Verflucht! More Fershlugginner Tattoos!

As you may remember if you've been a faithful reader of Women Do from day one, it was a Globe story about women and tattoos that awakened me from my dogmatic slumbers and got this blog going. That was a couple of months ago. The Globe must have thought we were in danger of forgetting that women were into this whole tattoo business, because they're at it again. This time, it's mom tattoos.

The most striking thing about this story--other than the fact that local tattoo master Fat Ram Hannan totally undercuts its whole premise, saying that he does way more kid tattoos on fathers than on mothers--is that it's already run in the New York Times. Two years ago. Sure, the exact words are a little different. But not much. Check out the parallels.

Tattoos not just for sailors/bikers/prisoners/rough trade:

“I’d always thought of tattoos as something biker chicks got, not something I would get,” said Ms. Scarborough, a neonatal nurse. (NYT)

Hardly a generation ago, tattoos and mothers coexisted in few places aside from a sailor’s biceps. (NYT)

The number doesn't reveal how many mothers get inked, but it points to the social acceptability of a practice that just a few decades ago was associated with sailors, prisoners, and punks. (Boston Globe)

Pew poll used as tenuous news hook:

Forty percent of women ages 26 to 40 have at least one tattoo, according to a report published this year by the Pew Research Center. (NYT)

Forty percent of American women ages 26 to 40 have a tattoo, according to a 2007 study by the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C. (Boston Globe)

Angelina Jolie duly name-checked:

She said she first heard the term “mommy tattoo” two years ago, around the time Angelina Jolie began getting the longitude and latitude numbers of her children’s birthplaces tattooed onto her arm. (NYT)

That trend has surged as mega-star mothers like Angelina Jolie celebrate their children with prominent body art. In Jolie's case, she has a tattoo of the longitude and latitude coordinates from the places where her children entered her life. (Boston Globe)

Miami Ink duly name-checked:

Two reality shows may be part of the reason that mothers who always saw themselves as conservative are decorating their bodies. The Learning Channel series “Miami Ink” and its new sister show, “L.A. Ink,” appear on a network once better known for its how-to fashion and home-improvement programming. (NYT)

"It's not like 'Miami Ink,' " he said, referring to the Learning Channel reality show, "where they ask what does this tattoo mean to you?" (Boston Globe)

Pain of tattooing compared to pain of childbirth (You have got to be fucking kidding me. --Ed.):

Ms. Murray said that women often draw a connection between the pain of childbirth and the discomfort of feeling an ink-filled needle get under your skin. “It’s pretty common for women to say stuff like: ‘I can deal with this pain. I’ve given birth,’” said Mike Shea, a tattoo artist in Cambridge, Mass. (NYT)

As for the pain factor of getting tattooed, Ruch, who sat for three two-hour sessions getting "Devin" inked on her side, said it was excruciating, as her entire ribcage vibrated from the needle. "But it's like childbirth. You forget the pain when it's over and you're looking at it." (Boston Globe)

At least you're never gonna break up with your kid LOL hardy har har!

“A lot of the women watch the TV shows and they think, ‘Hey I could do that,’” said Mike Rubendall, the owner of Kings Avenue Tattoo in North Massapequa, N.Y. “They figure their kid will always be their kid. They won’t ever regret it.” (NYT)

Unlike names of lovers and sometimes even spouses, he sees no regret factor in getting a tattoo with your children's names. "Your kids are always going to be your kids." (Boston Globe)

Doesn't the New York Times own the Globe? Couldn't they just have reprinted the old story? It even had a Cambridge guy in it. Or they could have, you know, run some news.

Food Eaten By Women, Men

This morning, I went out in the yard with a few chicken bones tied together with a rag, muttered a few guttural incantations and left them hanging from the branch of an apple tree to ward off the evil eye. Why? Because the Globe is toying with my mind.

You may think this sounds paranoid. Well, then, you explain it. Why else would they run a great big blooming feature on the cover of Living/Arts--oops, sorry, "g"--devoted entirely to the thesis that men eat meat and women eat plants? And call it "Guys vs. Dolls"? And stuff it with irrelevant science? And, for the jaunty little sprig of parsley atop this teetering pile of madness-inducing verbiage, execute a rhetorical 180-degree-turn in the last few paragraphs that neatly disposes of the premise that THEY MADE UP IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Sorry for the yelling. Deep breath. Go to your happy place, Harris. Ommmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Now, I know they run this kind of drivel on a regular basis. There's no reason to think it's personal. Except for the deviled eggs.

Deviled eggs, you see, are men's food, along with everything else of animal origin. According to source Holly Safford, the Hingham caterer upon whose experienced shoulders this story's meager pretentions to factuality rest, no self-respecting female would be caught dead sinking her teeth into one of these savory little confections.

"I don't think I've ever seen a woman eat a deviled egg" at a social function, says Safford. "She might like them, but with all of the mayonnaise and everything it just feels too much like a whole meal. For a man, he might deny himself eggs every morning because he should watch his cholesterol. But at a party, he's not thinking about his statins," referring to cholesterol-lowering drugs.

(Ooh, they explained "statins." Thanks, nameless Globe editor!)

Deviled eggs are my Proustian madeleine. I sometimes think I might be the only person east of Worcester who owns a special deviled-egg plate and uses it on a regular basis. I never let a summer barbecue go by without making a giant mess of deviled eggs, and I usually consume an untoward number of them personally. When Joe Keohane and Jean Whitman left Boston recently to make their fortunes in New York, I was very sad, not only because they're fine folks and I will miss them, but because they were the only other people I know around here who made deviled eggs. I don't know how the Globe knows all this. Is it possible they've implanted some sort of chip in my spine?

But enough about my personal paranoias. Go read the story; go stare in slack-jawed wonder at its mind-boggling irrelevance, as with one fell swoop it divides the entire food-eating world into tremulous salad-pickers and boorish bacon-grease-swillers. And if you still haven't had enough, check out the bonus Q&A, in which a couple of female food bloggers face off against, unaccountably, a couple of Merrimack Valley radio guys to reveal their food preferences and ascribe them to the rest of us. A sample:

Q. What kind of salad dressing do guys like?

DJ: If I throw it against the wall and it sticks, that's the kind of dressing guys want.

I hope MC Slim J.B. rips this useless idea a new one in print somewhere. I hope Nina Planck reads this story and mails Globe food correspondent M.E. Malone a brick of lard for his or her birthday. I hope I will get a chance to eat a deviled egg soon. A really zesty one, with lots of horseradish and paprika.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Women Panic, Take Off All Their Clothes

In what appears to be a real, actual, numbers-backed trend, women are competing with increasing ferocity for stripper jobs as the economy continues its headlong plunge into the abyss. This seems on its face to make a small bit of economic sense. On the one hand, stripping is as tough as it ever was, and as the article points out, the clubs aren't drawing so many big spenders these days. On the other, at least you can't get outsourced to China.

(I haven't been in Lower Manhattan since the housing bubble burst--do you suppose the few female refugees from Lehman Bros. are wandering through the deserted streets in tattered skirt suits, wearing sandwich boards that say "Will Whore For Stale Bread"?)

But to all you gomers out there hoping that the adult entertainment industry will save your bacon, be ye warned. Nothing is recession-proof. Exhibit A: this recent auction announcement in the Wall Street Journal. (Good eye, Em!)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Live at 10: Girls, Girls and More Girls

Johnny Diaz had to know, when he got up this morning, stretched his nubile limbs and began steeling himself for another long day of filing content-free stories and pimping his latest book (Amazon keywords: mysterious skin, journalism conference, South Beach, Deco Time, Puerto Rican), that I was going to smack him for this story about women news anchors. Either that, or he's not spending enough time Googling himself lately. And that I find hard to believe.

Before unleashing a gallon of haterade on Diaz's latest scrap of journalistic tinsel, I should first confess that I don't watch much TV news. It takes something out of me physically. The last time I accidentally caught a few minutes of Channel 7, I woke up the next day with a tremendous boil on my forehead, which upon further examination, was found to contain a tiny, wriggling Frances Rivera. I find it safest to stick to print journalism, which is damaging enough to one's health.

But being an American living in a major metropolitan area and not in a coma, I feel I have picked up enough on the general zeitgeist to be able to utter the following points with reasonable confidence:

1. Journalism is dying.
2. TV news is getting worse.
3. Men are getting laid off everywhere because they make more money and generally want to be treated like people, an attitude that does not fly in the next Great Depression.
4. T&A sells.

But this is all OK. Indeed, it's great news. Because it all adds up to the increasing dominance of two-woman news anchor teams! And the news-lite formula, which must remain forever unexamined, is that More Women = Good.

Diaz's story reads like a parody of itself. In it, a barely-disguised pastiche of audience-pandering, economic misery and cold, calculating misogyny is whitewashed with almost Onionesque perkiness.

While their managers say they were the best candidates for the jobs, their gender influenced the decisions in some cases. Managers say today's audiences are more willing to accept news from a young woman. As stations lose industry veterans, who typically earn much larger salaries, they turn to younger anchors to cut costs and draw viewers.

Translation: Hey, women: You suck. But you're cheaper.

His station, which has a female news director, Linda Miele, also promoted reporter Sorboni Banerjee as its lone weekend morning anchor.

"We were running short of men," Ansin said. "And we said, 'Gee, let's see how it goes if we had Sorboni go at it alone.' "

I cannot even comment on this without my head spinning entirely around like Linda Blair in the Exorcist.

Some station managers also think they can increase their ratings by putting attractive young women in the anchor chairs, Papper said. "In television, what you look like matters, and that is true for both men and women," he said. "Young women can look more mature than men of the same age. The fact is that the average woman coming out of school, if you dress her up and put makeup on, she looks like an adult. The average guy coming out of school looks like he's coming out of puberty."

Might the perceived maturity of 22-year-old BU Comm grads in tartalicious heels have anything to do with the fact that women in television are generally sent off to the glue factory by the time they hit 40?

"It's not discrimination. It's biology."

If only Sojourner Truth were still alive to kick that statement's sorry, played-out ass.

"Viewers are so used to the yin-yang of a male-female anchor team, and I believe it's easier for people to assume they won't like anything other than that formula," [Rivera] said. "But there's the curiosity factor. Once that's appeased and they realize there is a unique dynamic with a female anchor team, they say they stick around to watch."
Ripped from the headlines of 1763. It Is Not Done Well, But You Are Surprised To Find It Done At All.

I feel it says a great deal about this story that so far, the comments on it are more perceptive than the reporting. I feel, also, that every time the shriveled monkey-paw of pop culture grants you a wish, it takes something precious from you as well. You want women to succeed in the prestigious world of TV news anchoring? Very well then. They shall be clad in pinstriped Spandex, and they shall dance the Macarena on Walter Cronkite's grave.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Holy Grail of Women Gadget Stories

I have found it. The ultimate story involving women and the gadgets they would buy, if only the makers of said gadgets truly grokked the ungrokkable miasma of mystery that is womankind. It is from the Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan's largest English daily, which has a history of being incredibly off-base in the women department, and it is about cars. It's as if the entire cast of Mad Men suddenly popped up in a Toyota dealership in Tokyo and decided, "You know what's missing here? Cookies!"

Toyota Motor Co. said that some time ago one of its female employees was overheard telling her coworkers, "Today's cars don't have any playful touches."

Her remark and similar comments prompted the launch of the Chambre a Paris, a special edition of Toyota's small compact Vitz car, which came out in February. The French term "chambre a Paris" means a small room in Paris.

Is Japan so squeezed for space that people are now actually spending their honeymoons inside their cars? No wonder their population is shrinking.

Yoneda said they first switched their focus from performance and comfort to creating a sense of neatness, both inside and out.

Ah yes. "Women have no wilderness in them, / They are provident instead, / Content in the tight hot cell of their hearts / To eat dusty bread." And to drive go-carts with snazzy cup organizers.

The car features colorful touches such as hubcaps patterned with a dot design and seats that come with seat covers in three colors, allowing customers to quickly and easily change the car's interior color scheme.

Just think. I could be spending every other Sunday wrassling with yards of auto upholstery. How fun!

Yoneda said the women polled requested comfortable, sofalike seats, a polka-dot paint scheme and other features that have not been found in cars so far.

Polka-dot cars! I hear they have great resale value. In Candyland.

Honda Cars Aichi set up a team of young female employees to revamp sales service at its dealership. It now also makes a variety of items available to its female customers. Women can now receive a blanket and cookbook to leaf through while they are waiting. Women also are served a cup of hot chocolate and given cookies during a sales pitch.

So I've got the blanket on my lap, the cookbook in one hand, the hot chocolate in another and my mouth stuffed full of cookies. Anything else you care to stuff in my face before trying to sell me that $20,000 piece of machinery? A roofie, perhaps?

Check out the rest here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Erin Go Bleaaaaaagggggghhhhhh

Today, a great blessing has been visited upon the land. We have been granted a day of rest in between the Southie parade and the actual St. Patrick's Day, during which, if we are lucky, we can hole up in a dark corner and slowly begin forgetting all our fine promises never to touch green 40s of malt liquor ever ever again. I'm guessing a great many of you--most of my fellow Bostonians, at least--are somewhat the worse for wear today. I recommend you drink a huge glass of tomato juice, have a few saltines, and contemplate the immortal words of Kingsley Amis:

He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of the morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum.

Also, women, you should know that this kind of behavior gives you cancer. At least, that's what a TV station in Rochester says. And that's where most of us like to get our science. Look:

A new study says as little as one drink a day can significantly raise the risk of one type of cancer for women.

Dr. Robert Anthenelli, an addiction researcher, said the study found just two drinks a day ups woman's risk of pancreatic cancer.

What? Cancer? From one drink a day? Or is it two? WHAM, your blithe fecklessness with facts is a little disturbing.

I was about to go flying out the door and see a guy about having my potentially cancerous pancreas out, the better to enjoy a nice IPA of an evening, but fortunately I read all the way to the bottom first.

Those addiction trials are on-going and results are expected in a couple of years.

Sheeeeeeeeeit. That's science-speak for "a whole lot of nothin'." And as the story notes, the point of Anthenelli's boozy women-research is to find new drugs. In thirty seconds of bullshit-detecting research on the Google, I discovered that Anthenelli's on the take from various pharmaceutical companies. The following is courtesy of Google cache:

"Robert M. Anthenelli, MD, discloses that he receives grant/research support from sanofi-aventis, Addex, and Ortho-McNeil Neurologics. He is a consultant for sanofi-aventis, Pfizer, and Alkermes-Cephalon and a clinical investigator for sanofi-aventis and Addex. He also is on the speaker's bureau for sanofi-aventis and Pfizer."

So he's working on some kind of alcoholism drug that they can target especially to women! Oh, my God, it's brilliant. Can you see the commercial now? We open on a shadowy living room, where a vaguely out-of-focus woman gazes alone with sepia-toned melancholy out a window, clutching a wineglass. Cut to a dazzling meadow, where our heroine, now clad in perky florals and surrounded by frolicking children, contemplates a brave new world of nuclear-family happiness, thanks to the miracle of modern medicine. Ask your doctor if Sozzilax is right for you.

Hey WHAM. There's this new thing. It's called fact-checking.

**UPDATE!** I made a mistake in an earlier version of this post, and conflated two separate studies mentioned in the WHAM story. It looks like the study on women and addiction is ongoing, but the one about cancer is already done. (Sorry! Physician, heal thyself!) I can't find the cancer study in PubMed though. Am assuming it exists in peer-reviewed medical literature somewhere, but this may be overly optimistic.

**UPDATE UPDATE!** Well, this will teach me to blog on an empty stomach. It's not Anthenelli's research at all. (Thanks a lot, WHAM!) It's out of Georgetown University, was funded by the National Cancer Institute and is in the current issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. So, women, you're screwed. Better get that pancreas out after all.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Publicity: Ur Doin It Wrong

Small, frightened women of Boston! Your hour is nigh! Tremble no more in terror of large steaks, beach season and the hooting barbarians of the Theater District. Regan's Lindsay Rotundi explains why:

Good morning!

With beach season just around the corner, Fleming’s invites everyone to come in and try their new Light Entrée menu. The Light Entrée menu gives diners the chance to have their beloved steakhouse experience minus the excessive portions. Fleming’s has chosen three classic dishes and downsized them in both size and price, but never in taste!

These menu options are perfect for women diners usually intimidated by steakhouse portions, for those looking to shape-up for beach season without compromising their dining experience, or for lighter fare before you continue your night at the theater or an event, (Fleming’s will also gladly shuttle you over wherever you choose in their Mercedes Crossover Courtesy Car!). The menu items are available during standard operating hours, seven days a week.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thank you!

The new items:

FILET MIGNON served with Fleming’s potatoes - $28.95

AUSTRALIAN LAMB CHOPS served with roasted plum tomatoes - $29.95

TUNA MIGNON served with grilled asparagus - $26.50

Thanks, Boston editor. You know who you are.

Show Us Your Tits Or The Mouse Gets It

It's Casual Friday at Women Do HQ. What does that mean? Pajamas again for me! And sexual harassment for all! In today's lesson, we learn that women do ask for it. Just not in this case.

Thanks to Tom Egan of Mass Lawyers Weekly for passing along this highly entertaining read--a recent decision from the Massachusetts Committee Against Discrimination, in which G-2 Systems ex-employee Beth Citron, fed up with suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, takes arms against a sea of tit-ogling from bosses Tom Green, Steve Shepard and Hank Shepard.

Among the highlights:

...When Complainant approached him at his desk to ask questions about purchase orders, he said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear a word that you said, I was too mesmerized by your breasts.”

...As Complainant bent underneath her desk to get money from her purse, Shepard said that showing her “tits” would not get her out of it. Id. at 24. Complainant pointed out that her sweatshirt was zipped so high that it was practically a turtle neck, to which Shepard said, “Oh, I thought your tit was hanging out.”

And the piece de resistance:

Complainant testified that one day in November of 2004, Greene was standing by the door of Hank Shepard’s office and said that he was going to capture a mouse and allow it to live if she took off her shirt and bra, but kill it with a hammer if she didn’t. Transcript, I at 110-111, II at 137. Complainant responded by saying that she was disgusted by his idea and walked away. Transcript I at 111. Greene subsequently said that he was going to fill up a bucket of water about halfway and put a platform full of food in the bucket in order to attract a mouse. Transcript, II at 162. According to Complainant, Greene thereafter made the following comments in her presence or by fax: “mouse and hammer,” “I’m getting that mouse today,” “I’ve got that hammer ready,” and “help, I’m drowning signed the mouse.”

After sifting through the lurid facts, Hearing Officer Betty Waxman concludes that, indeed, Citron was sexually harassed, though she dismisses a second allegation of constructive discharge. But buried in Waxman's finding is this vile little nugget:

In short, Complainant’s behavior and dress were not sufficiently provocative to be deemed an invitation for sexual harassment.

Oof. Lucky for Citron she's "quiet, shy, and not temperamental," I guess. Being a habitual dropper of F-bombs, myself, I doubt I would make it through one of these hearings alive.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Globe Announces Limerick Contest

In honor of the spectacular drunken mess scheduled for next week, the Globe has once again rolled out their annual contest for "limericks that sum up Boston." I couldn't resist entering it. Here's mine:

Said the Globe's troubled boss, Marty Baron,
"The news biz is, frankly, despairin'.
Half the folks who find facts
Will be getting the axe.
Now go cover some rich MILFs in Sharon!"

Anybody else? If you enter this contest, please, please post your limerick here as well. (Suldog, that means you!)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Women Have No Energy; Energy Has No Women

Missouri 15-year-old girl struck with debilitating fatigue; with the help of their exceptional medical knowledge and scientific training, parents and local newspaper conclude it must have been the Gardasil. (You know what's great for your energy level? Cancer!)

In other Gardasil news, the FDA has once again deemed women ages 27-45 too slutty for the HPV vaccine. (Their reasoning appears to go something like this: Under 9: not slutty enough. 9-26: just right. 27-plus: Go get cancer, you bunch of hos.)

In other non-Gardasil news, local energy consultant Judy Chang would like to see more women get involved with energy and the environment. Accordingly, she's kicking off a new group, New England Women in Energy and the Environment, this week at the World Trade Center in Boston.

I suppose this is as good an opportunity as any to pimp my new other blog, which is much more boring and wonky than this one, but contains just as many terrible puns, if not more. It's called Captain Trade, and it concerns carbon finance: offsets, cap-and-trade, carbon tax proposals, etc. Any dumbness therein should be attributed solely to me, and not to the several billion people with whom I share certain general characteristics of anatomy.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Automotive Harlotry

On the front page of Boston.com, in the Cars section:
These women truly own the auto show stage - the cars are but a backdrop.
Women in auto shows? Mais c'est impossible, ca! Fear not, Reader, there are not actually any women doing anything important at the auto show in Geneva. Click on through to the Cars page and all will be right with the world again.
Sex and cars have always been a winning sales formula. Have a look at all the pizazz on the auto show floor.
Of course! That's what women are for. What a relief. But it gets better! Check out the slideshow, Girls of the 2009 Geneva Auto Show:

The overused phrase "sex sells" was probably coined by the automotive industry, and it's been used over and over to make men pay attention to its products. Put a pair of high heels in front of a Tata Nano or any sort of ugly, undesirable car, and they will notice.

Whether in print and television advertising or on the auto show floor, attractive females (and very occasionally, males) never fail to present a glamorous image. It's comforting, then, to know that style and sex are two things automakers won't cut from their budgets.

- Clifford Atiyeh, Boston.com Staff

Thank you, Clifford Atiyeh, for once again putting your finger on the pulse of Boston. How comforting the misogyny is to us all in these brutal times. Like a favorite pair of warm, woolly, women-hating slippers.

2009 Geneva Auto Show

And who is in that unforgettable photo on the front page? Faceless, identical, with their milky limbs spilling out of the open door of a coupe like a couple of lissome harlots sculpted in plasticine? Oh yes! It's Gettysluts!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Everything South Of Canal Street Must Be A Howling Wasteland If This Tripe Is On The Front Page Of The Wall Street Journal

That is all.

Apparently you thought so too, because several of you sent me this story, which informs us that women are on Craig's List selling their old pants.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Turkey: It's Just Like Here

Those women in Turkey just won't stop. Yesterday it was chess. Now they're playing soccer. (Thanks for the link, Neal!)

Alas, life is tough for soccer-playing women in this repressive, sexist, overly-religious, weird little backwater of the globe. It's not easy in Turkey, either.

Let us count the woes of these Turkish footballerettes. First off, they can't fill the stands:
But at this game, between host Kartalspor and Ankara’s Gazi Universitesispor, the 22 players on the field outnumbered the people shivering in the stands. The weather was probably not to blame for the poor attendance; it was more likely because of who was playing.
Poor turnout for the ladies? Yep, we've got that here too.

"We’ve had men come to watch our practices and yell at our players: ‘What are you doing here? You should be at home, cooking!’ ” said Ozbar, one of the few women accredited as a soccer coach in Turkey, and the only one in Istanbul.
Obnoxious commentary? Check.

An amateur league of about two dozen teams existed in Turkey for a decade until it was shut down in 2002 amid allegations of mismanagement and rumors of affairs between female players — particularly scandalous in this country.
Lavender Menace? Check.

"Some believe that playing football can harm a girl’s build and make her manly,” Or said.
Hand-wringing over the damage the brutal, Hobbesian world of sport might inflict on women's tender willowy limbs? Check.

Selling women’s soccer also requires dolling it up. One of the new logos for the league features a slender woman’s hand with long, red-painted fingernails cupping a soccer ball. The background on Or’s computer screen is a photograph of a soccer cleat with a stiletto heel.
Tarting it up for the almighty sponsorship dollar? Check.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Only A Pawn In Their Game

We interrupt this regularly scheduled program of newspaper-bashing to bring you this vital news: Women are going to play some chess this week in Turkey.

Why, for the love of all that's holy, are there women-only chess events at all? I can think of a few reasons, none of them all that good:

1. Women are generally worse than men at chess. Therefore, we have to give them their own event so they can win sometimes.

Even if you accept the premise, the conclusion doesn't follow. What do general statistical trends have to do with individual abilities? Not much. Saying individual women can't possibly compete with men because women rank worse overall is kind of like looking at national weight averages and concluding that Rosie O'Donnell must be skinnier than Pete Wentz. Anyway, if I was a top-ranked chess player and somebody said this to me in all seriousness, I'd put a knight through their frontal lobe.

2. Women are generally as good at chess as men are, or better. Therefore, we have to give them their own event so that grown men won't have to lose to 11-year-old girls.

One word: Pussies.

3. We have no idea if women are as good at chess as men, but the only way to get women playing chess is to give them their own special tournament.

Please condescend to me more in an attempt to make your favorite activity seem less dull to the Hannah Montana set.

Amazingly enough, a scientific paper recently addressed this very issue. Statisticians took a look at the performance gap between the top 100 ranked male and female players in Germany, and concluded that most of it could be explained by sample bias: i.e., not enough women in the sample to yield very high-ranking outliers. Read more about it on this blog, which also features some grown men crying about losing to 11-year-old girls.

Monday, March 2, 2009

London Times Hits NYT's Sloppy, Female Leftovers

What is this bloated battlestar of a story--which appeared in the NYT magazine on January 25--doing in yesterday's London Times? Jesus Christ. Once was bad enough. Do they not have the Intertubes in merry olde England?

They did change the title, from the prim "What Do Women Want?" to the much more Austin Powers-worthy "What Turns Women On." And they misspelled the author's name. Those cheeky Brits.

In all fairness, the best thing I've read today also comes from that other Times, and it is this essay by Caitlin Moran. A sample:

But then, as a gimlet-eyed, hatchet-faced, ball-breaking feminist with recurring cystitis, which makes me additionally tetchy, I'm genuinely surprised that strip clubs still exist in the first place. They seem absolutely incongruous in a modern society - whenever I see one, it shocks me as much as if I'd just seen a sign going up saying “Minstrel Show!” or “Jew-Beating, Sticks £1!”. There's a Spearmint Rhino on Tottenham Court Road. Tottenham Court Road. To all intents and purposes, that means there's a titty-bar on the Monopoly board.

Nice. In an armed columnist's duel between Caitlin Moran and Alex Beam, my money would obviously be on the lady.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Ruined Maid

Dear readers: I need your help. I'm having a hard time pinning down exactly what bothers me about the Globe's Sunday magazine feature, about the year Globe mag staffer Neil Swidey spent being a fly on the wall of an 11-year-old in Rozzie. "Turning 12," it's called. "Everybody's talking about bras and boys, but Adele isn't quite ready to put down her dolls. One year with one girl at the age when everything changes."


For the record: I respect the time and effort Swidey put into this story. I think he probably has the best of intentions. Reporters don't spend enough time talking to 11-year-olds, and I hate to smack anybody for making a damn sincere effort on that front.

But for all the meticulously reported anecdotes, there's not much there there. Just a creeping miasma of doom. As young Adele shuffles along from games of tag to Urban Nutcracker performances to her painful-sounding peer "rap-around" session, the horror grows. [Cue the ominous strings.] Sex. It's coming for sweet little Adele. And it's gonna get her in the end.

Look, I've got a daughter, and I hope to God she doesn't have to learn the mechanics before she's good and ready. But enough with the fetishization of female cluelessness already. Swidey writes as though pink cellphones are the gateway drug to a life of utter moral depravity.

Philip Pullman, the author of the His Dark Materials series, has already said this better than I could, so I'm going to stand back and let him. Here he is in an interview with a writer from Surefish, a British Christian website, on his moral objections to C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia:

You're not alone in attacking Lewis but you are really vehement in your criticism. You've called his books 'detestable'. Why do you feel so strongly about them?

Because the things he's being cruel to are things I value very highly. The crux of it all comes, as many people have found, with the point near the end of the Last Battle (in the Narnia books) when Susan is excluded from the stable.

The stable obviously represents salvation. They're going to heaven, they're going to be saved. But Susan isn't allowed into the stable, and the reason given is that she's growing up. She's become far too interested in lipstick, nylons and invitations. One character says rather primly: 'She always was a jolly sight too keen on being grown up.'

This seems to me on the part of Lewis to reveal very weird unconscious feelings about sexuality. Here's a child whose body is changing and who's naturally responding as everyone has ever done since the history of the world to the changes that are taking place in one's body and one's feelings. She's doing what everyone has to do in order to grow up.

Maybe one day she'll grow past the invitations and the lipstick and the nylons. But my point is that it's an inevitable, important, valuable and cherishable stage that we go through. This what I'm getting at in my story. To welcome and celebrate this passage, rather than to turn from it in fear and loathing.

Er, yes. What he said.